Why You Need a Living Will

This often-ignored estate planning component offers greater control over your future--and makes a difficult time easier on your loved ones

During your living will brainstorm, try to avoid emotion. Instead focus on how you would want your doctors and loved ones to handle these important decisions on your behalf. Get your goals and wishes down on paper, and then share them with an attorney or another qualified individual who can make your desires “official.”

Getting family members involved can help relieve some of the stress of drafting a living will, says Osbourne, and it may also prod your parents, brothers, sisters and others to draft their own living wills. And “don’t just throw your living will on a shelf to gather dust,” cautions Gandy. Once an attorney makes the document legal, be sure to review it annually to be sure it still reflects what you want.

Hall rests easy knowing that doctors will follow through on her end-of-life wishes. She now spreads the word about the value of living wills to friends and family. “A lot of people just don’t think about what could happen,” Hall says. “A living will is an effective way to gain peace of mind about what will take place should you become unable to vouch for yourself.”

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